The Institute Library, which opened in 1929 with a mere 3,000 titles donated by St Michael’s College, today has holdings of about 150,000 volumes whose lustre is enhanced and complemented by specialized collections of 2,550 rare books, 10,000 manuscripts on microfilm and 60,000 slides.
Location and Access
The PIMS Library is operating under a series of rules and safety protocols in response to COVID-19. Click here to read the full list of rules, regulations, and instructions. All readers are expected to be familiar with these procedures and follow them at all times.
The Institute Council alone exercises control and authority over Library policies and use. Access to the library is normally granted to those professors and graduate students of the University of Toronto who need to consult unique copies or materials not otherwise accessible. Every reasonable opportunity to use the library is also given to visiting scholars, particularly Guests of the Institute.
The PIMS Library is operating on a reduced schedule in response to COVID-19.
Please note the following schedule. While every effort is made to keep information current, patrons are requested to confirm opening hours and any other matters relating to access or to the collections directly with the library staff (see below).
- Hours (as of 28 September 2020):
- Mon–Wednesday: 10:00–4:30. If you are not planning to arrive at 10 a.m., call first to make sure that there is a place for you when you arrive.
- Thurs–Sunday: closed
- Holiday closings:
- Thanksgiving Day: Monday, October 12, 2020
- Christmas/New Year: Friday, December 20, 2019 to Sunday, January 5, 2020 inclusive
- Family Day: Monday, February 17, 2020
- Good Friday: Friday, April 10, 2020
- Victoria Day: Monday, May 18, 2020
- Canada Day: Wednesday, July 1, 2020
- Civic Holiday: Monday, August 3, 2020
- Labour Day: Monday, September 7, 2020
For questions regarding policy and acquisitions, and to consult rare books and manuscripts, please contact the Librarian, Dr Greti Dinkova-Bruun, or James K. Farge, CSB, Curator of the Rare Book Room. To consult the collections, and for general information, please write to Michael Sloan or telephone 416 926 7146. Reference questions should be directed to William Edwards at 416 926 2094.
Policies and Regulations
The Library is owned and operated by the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, which alone exercises authority over its policies and use. It functions as a research library.
Admission to the Library is by a PIMS Library pass, valid for one year, signed by the Librarian. An up-to-date Registration Form must be on file for every pass holder and occasional user. The user's signature on the pass signifies agreement to abide by the regulations. PIMS Library Passes are normally limited to the following:
- Fellows, Associates, Guests, and Staff of the Pontifical Institute.
- Professors and Graduate Students in the Centre for Medieval Studies or other Departments of the University of Toronto who are working in medieval studies.
- Undergraduate Students Majoring in Medieval Studies at St Michael's College.
- Visiting Professors and Graduate Students from other universities working in medieval studies. Please provide reference on university letterhead.
- Private scholars working in medieval studies.
- Others needing materials held uniquely in this library may be given access for the day.
The Library Pass must be shown to the door monitor upon entry. Please sign the register. Although access is gratis, salaried card holders are urged to help support the Library by becoming members of the Friends of the Library.
- Library materials do not circulate.
- Only materials for research (notes, paper, laptops or writing materials) may be brought into the Library. All other materials (such as briefcases, large purses, bags, and books from St Michael's College Library that have not been checked out) are to be consigned to the lockers provided.
- Sixty personal lockers inside the library are available for an annual fee ($5.00) and a key-return fee ($15.00). They are suitable for purses, laptops, notes, and microfilms.
- When photocopying, please avoid pressing on the book spine. Books likely to be photocopied by multiple users in a course should be copied one time only, and that master copied provided for re-copying by others.
- For reasons of conservation, Folio and Oversize books MAY NOT BE PHOTOCOPIED. The latter should be consulted on the reading stands.
- Bound journals and books in the Reference and Palaeography Rooms should be returned to the shelves daily by the user. All other books should be returned daily to the re-shelving trolley at the entrance to the stacks.
- Please exit the Library for conversations. Please do not engage the door monitor in conversation.
- No food, drink, or use of cell phones is permitted in the Library.
- Notices posted on the bulletin boards are subject to the approval of the Librarian.
- Refusal or failure to observe these regulations may result in loss of library access.
Catalogues and Facilities
The entire collection is non-circulating. For a description of its resources, see A Conspectus of the Collections. The library maintains separate catalogues for its holdings of printed books, microfilms, and many of its slides. Its catalogue of printed books is now searchable through the University of Toronto's computerized Library Catalogue but the shelf-list of manuscripts on microfilm, the microfiches of the Vatican Palatine Collection of early printed books, and journal holdings have not been entered into the on-line catalogue.
In addition to the principal collections of sources indispensable to any research on the Middle Ages (such as the Patrologia Graeca, Patrologia Latina, the Corpus Christianorum in its various series, the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, the volumes of the Acta Sanctorum) and major reference works (such as the Pauly-Wissowa and Der neue Pauly, the Italia Sacra, and the Gallia Christiana), patrons also have access to CD–ROM databases of the Corpus Christianorum series (CETEDOC), the Catalogue of Latin Incipits, and Thomas Aquinas’ Opera omnia (for further details, see A Conspectus of the Collections). The Institute library contains seminar rooms, six individual offices (wired for network access), open study carrels, microfilm readers, a microfilm digital reader-printer with greyscale capabilities for enhancing images, as well as computing and photocopying facilities.
The Library now provides full-colour scanning service of most of its collection. This requires that scans be sent to the patron’s email address as an electronic copy (JPG/TIFF/PDF). We aim to have the electronic copy sent within 24 hours of request (with the exception of weekends and holidays). The cost for this service is $0.25/page. Requests must be made in person as payment is required prior to the scanning. Further details and the scanning request form are available.
Report from the Librarian, June 2018–March 2020
During the period June 2018–mid March 2020, when the Library had to close because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have acquired 6,178 new volumes (2,767 purchased and 3,411 donated). Among these new arrivals, 160 were volumes and fascicles of new periodicals which were added to the collection: Arthuriana; Early Medieval Europe; Rivista di Studi di Anthologia Latina; Troianalexandrina; The Journal of Epigraphic Studies; Archivio Storico Italiano; Città di Vita; Early Theatre (the last three donations from the CRRS library). Notable arrivals in the library include: a small 15th-century manuscript prayer book with one small illustration of St. Francis (other illustrations cut out) donated by Len Gillis; ten leaves from notarial manuscripts dating from the 14th–16th centuries donated by Denis Brearley; and one leaf from a 16th-century Ottoman manuscript preserving an anonymous poem in Turkish and a small coloured illustration of the poet donated by Claude Desmarais. A facsimile of the ca. 1275–1300 Vatopedi Octateuch in Greek was sent to PIMS by the Vatican Library. The Friends of the Library (FOTL) bought two further facsimiles: one of a 16th-century Hebrew Bible preserved in the Royal Library in the Escorial (MS G.II.8), and another of a 16th-century copy of the Qur’an based on an original preserved in the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul.
We estimate that our holdings consist of about 100,900 titles or over 153,000 individual volumes (not counting the 20,000 books on microfiche or microfilm); rare books and facsimiles ca. 2,600 (39 incunabula); 45 manuscripts mostly in Latin, but some also in Greek and different vernacular languages; 60 single manuscript pages; ca. 200 parchment documents from a French family archive; ca. 10,000 manuscripts on microfilm; and about 1,900 CD-ROMs and DVDs of papal registers preserved in the Vatican Archive. The Library collection comprises as many as 450 scholarly journals in 10 different languages. We currently subscribe to 175 periodicals, of which 89 represent the only Toronto holdings. Forty-two of these periodicals are received in exchange for the Institute’s prestigious journal Mediaeval Studies. We also hold around 100,000 offprints of scholarly articles and pamphlets and about 60,000 colour slides, 10,000 of which have been digitized. The PIMS Library contributes to the Central Library’s purchases of the on-line resource Brepolis which is made available to everyone with access to the U of T system.
During the past two years (June 2018–March 2020) we had 826 registered readers. Most of them (717) were Canadians from 9 different provinces and 46 different academic institutions. From the USA 69 users came from at least 17 different states and 22 different universities. Forty patrons from overseas used the library, of which 18 were from the United Kingdom. On the average we serve 20–25 patrons each day. We provided access to 80 microfilms/microfiches and CD-ROMS, and 146 items from the “Joseph Pope Rare Book Room” were given to consultation. We received 195 requests for Inter Library Loans; of them 48 could be filled by providing pdf files of the materials. The revenue generated from this activity was used for new acquisitions.
Father Farge and the Librarian gave many tours of the Library to individuals, classes, and students from numerous universities and programs as well as to members of various professional and religious organizations. An expert on blind-stampings on English bindings of incunables and sixteenth-century books, Nicholas Pickwoad, Professor at the University of the Arts, London, visited the library in the Spring of 2019. He rated several of our examples as extremely important and rare. Another interesting project related to materials preserved in the Rare Book Room has been undertaken by Stephen Bernarski, Professor of Medieval History at St. Jerome’s University, who together with his students is studying and digitizing the medieval documents from the Nantel Archives. Altogether, we can count over 100 visitors to the PIMS Rare Book Room, the one coming from farthest away being Dr. Roger Sommerville, Chancellor of the University of Otago, New Zealand, who visited in the Fall of 2019. In 2019–2020, we reorganized the Donald F. Finlay, CSB, Reference Room where we installed five columns of glass-enclosed lockable shelving for Folio-size rare books. This initiative was supported by a generous donation from the Estate of Gerald and Lucille Dunleavy.
We are grateful to the Janet E. Hutchison Foundation, Maruja Jackman, William Edwards, James Estes, Jennifer Rigg, and Jill Webster, for their generous monetary contributions to our acquisition funds and special projects. Other contributors include Evelyn Collins, Joseph Gulsoy, Gertrude Jaron Lewis, James Long, Daniel Nodes, Hartwig Mayer, and Jaqueline Murray. As always, we are thankful to the Friends of the Library for their numerous initiatives and continuous support. We would like to express our thanks to everybody who has donated money for the Library through FOTL.
The value of the gifts in kind (i.e. books, microfilms, and facsimiles) to the Library amounted to over $120,000 over the years covered by this report. We would like to acknowledge in particular the significant donation from the Estate of Paul Miller who left his entire library to PIMS. We received 95 boxes of books and many CDs and DVDs. Paul Miller was a philosopher who collected books covering the history of the discipline from Antiquity to modern times. In addition, 65 large boxes (about 1500 books, primarily of Classical authors and Homer), arrived from the Estate of Georg Nikolaus “Niko” Knauer, Professor Emeritus from the University of Pennsylvania; 30 boxes came from of the Estate of Margot King, Editor of Peregrina Books; and 10 boxes of books on art history and manuscript illumination came from the Estate of Luba Eleen, Professor Emerita, University of Toronto. Furthermore, Jennifer Harris, Professor at the Department of Religion at U of T, donated 20 boxes of books, among which some important volumes on the architecture and history of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem; Father James McConica donated 17 boxes of books on Erasmus and other Renaissance writers, texts and commentaries; and finally, the now closed bookstore David Mirvish Books on Art donated numerous books on art history and archeology.
We received particularly large numbers of books from Maureen Boulton, Claude Desmarais, Greti Dinkova-Bruun, Michael Gervers, Edouard Jeauneau, Christopher McDonough, Brian Stock, Bob Sweetman, Pauline Thompson, David Townsend, Ron Thomson, and Bonnie Wheeler. Forty reels of microfilms and 10 sets of microfiche were donated by John Magee. Other smaller gifts in kind (primarily books) and donations for journal adoptions came from Alexander Andrée, Robert Bothwell, William Bowen, Christer Bruun, Anna Burko, Sheila Campbell, James Carley, Marc Cels, Isabelle Cochelin, Jean-François Cottier, William Edwards, Carl Hammer, Michael Herren, Ann Hutchison, Maruja Jackman, Craig Kallendorf, Sarah King Head, John McErlean, Eric Mcgeer, Alison More, Elisabeth Oreten, John Osborne, Martin Pickavé, Jaclyn Piudik, Peter Konieczny, Christine Kralik, Myra Rosenfeld-Little, Erika Rummel, Ellen Schwartz, Lori Walters, and Germaine Warkentin. Our apologies to any donors whose names we have failed to record. The generosity of all our supporters is truly appreciated.
We wish to acknowledge the work of our staff, William Edwards and Michael Sloan, who work tirelessly in ordering and cataloguing our new acquisitions. We are also aided by our dedicated student-monitors who provide invaluable assistance to many of our readers. Finally, we would like to acknowledge our fruitful collaboration with Margaret English from the Department of Art Library, Mary Reynolds from Regis College Library, Natalie Oeltjen from the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS) at U of T’s Victoria College, and Michela Ghera from the Vatican Library.
GRETI DINKOVA-BRUUN, Librarian (2012–)
JAMES K. FARGE, CSB, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections (2012–)